#10 Michigan Football 2017 Preview


Michigan Wolverines


Overall Rank: #10

#3 Big Ten

Michigan enters the 2017 season losing three of their last four games. Their perfect season was ruined by Iowa in a tough 14-13 loss. A couple games later, with national title hopes still on the line, the Wolverines lost in double overtime to Ohio State. And then they lost by one point to Florida State in the Orange Bowl. With just six starters back, this will look like a very different Michigan team, but Coach Jim Harbaugh continues to bring in talented recruits and this is a team that is ready to reload and compete for a Big Ten East title.
2016 Record: 10-3, 7-2
2016 Bowl: Orange Bowl vs. Florida State (L 32-33)
Coach: Jim Harbaugh (20-6 at Michigan, 78-33 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Tim Drevno
Defensive Coordinator: Don Brown
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Chris Evans, RB, 614 yards
Passing: Wilton Speight, QB, 2,538 yards
Receiving: Grant Perry, WR, 183 yards
Tackles: Mike McCray, LB, 76
Sacks: Chase Winovich, DE, 5.0
Interceptions: Mike McCray, LB, 2
Other Key Returnees: RB Ty Issac, RB Karan Higdon, OL Mason Cole, DL Maurice Hurst, DL Rashan Gary
Key Losses: RB De’Veon Smith, WR Amara Darboh, TE Jake Butt, WR Jehu Chesson, OL Erik Magnuson, OL Kyle Kalis, OL Ben Braden, LB Ben Gedeon, LB Jabrill Peppers, DE Taco Charlton, DB Dymonte Thomas, DL Chris Wormley
Quarterback Wilton Speight is one of the few returning starters and that is a good place to start. The Wolverines want to run the ball and stretch out the defense with Speight throwing the long ball. He completed 61.6 percent of his passes for 2,538 yards and 18 touchdowns and should be more consistent with a year of starting experience under his belt. Speight will have to work with almost a completely new group of receivers though since Amara Darboh, Jehu Chesson and Jake Butt are gone. Kekoa Crawford and Eddie McDoom have some experience, but freshmen Donovan People-Jones and Tarik Black could be the most productive options by seasons end. At running back there is much more experience despite the loss of leading rusher De’Veon Smith. Chris Evans rushed for 614 yards on just 88 carries as a freshman last season and will likely be the team’s top rusher. Ty Isaac is a bruising senior who rushed for 417 yards and five touchdowns, while Karan Higdon added 444 yards and six scores on the ground. With all of those options, the Wolverines will be tough to stop on the ground, as long as the new look offensive line can remain productive.
Michigan led the country in total defense last year, allowing just 261.8 yards per game. However, with just one starter returning, there are obviously quite a few questions to answer. On the line Chase Winovich and Rashan Gary will spend plenty of time getting to the quarterback. Winovich tallied 5.0 sacks last season, while Gary had some promising moments during his freshman campaign. Tackle Maurice Hurst will be the leader up front after turning down an opportunity to go pro after his junior year. He recorded 4.5 sack and 11.5 tackles-for-loss last season. Mike McCray will be the leader of the linebackers after tallying 76 tackles last season. Sophomores Devin Bush and Khaleke Hudson figure to step into a starting role after seeing some quality playing time as freshmen. Lavert Hill, David Long and Josh Metellus also saw playing time as freshmen and should emerge as productive players in the secondary.
The Bottom Line:
Michigan kicks off the season with a tough game against Florida in Arlington, Texas. After that, the Wolverines should have some time to work out their new roles before a trip to Penn State on October 21st. It is at the end of the season where things may not go quite as well again for Michigan. They travel to Wisconsin on November 18th and host Ohio State the following Saturday. They should still be competing for a Big Ten East title at that time, but Coach Harbaugh would need his team to overachieve if they are going to beat out Penn State and the Buckeyes for a conference title.
Projected Bowl: Peach Bowl
2016 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 212.9 (33rd in nation, 2nd in conference)
Passing Offense: 212.0 (85, 7)
Total Offense: 424.9 (58, 4)
Scoring Offense: 40.3 (11, 1)
Rushing Defense: 119.2 (15, 3)
Pass Defense: 142.5 (1, 1)
Total Defense: 261.8 (1, 1)
Scoring Defense: 14.1 (2, 1)
Turnover Margin: 0.54 (24, 5)
Sacks: 3.54 (4, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 1.69 (40, 4)
Madness 2017 Recruit Rankings:
#11      Donovan Peoples-Jones
#27      Aubrey Solomon
#46      Cesar Ruiz
#66      Luiji Vilain
#73      Drew Singleton
#76      Jordan Anthony
#90      Tarik Black
#147    Ambry Thomas
#175    Dylan McCaffrey
#183    Nico Collins
#221    Chuck Filiaga