#9 Michigan Football 2019 Preview

Michigan Wolverines
Overall Rank: #9
#2 Big Ten
 Michigan Logo
Michigan lost their first game of the regular season against Notre Dame and their last game of the season against Ohio State. Between those two games, the Wolverines reeled off ten straight victories, including relatively easy victories over Wisconsin, Michigan State and Penn State. The loss to Florida in the Peach Bowl has not given Michigan much momentum heading into the 2019 campaign, but this is group that has national title aspirations.
2018 Record: 10-3, 8-1
2018 Bowl: Peach Bowl vs. Florida (L 15-41)
Coach: Jim Harbaugh (38-14 at Michigan, 67-35 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Josh Gattis
Defensive Coordinator: Don Brown
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Tru Wilson, RB, 364 yards
Passing: Shea Patterson, QB, 2,600 yards
Receiving: Nico Collins, WR, 632 yards
Tackles: Josh Ross, LB, 61
Sacks: Josh Uche, DE, 7.0
Interceptions: Josh Metellus, S, 3
Other Key Returnees: WR Donovan Peoples-Jones, OL Michael Onwenu, OL Ben Bredeson, LB Khaleke Hudson, LB Devin Gil, CB Lavert Hill, P Will Hart
Key Losses: RB Karan Higdon, RB Chris Evans, TE Zach Gentry, DE Chase Winovich, DE Rashan Gary, LB Devin Bush, CB David Long, S Tyree Kinnel, CB Brandon Watson
Shea Patterson is back for his senior season and will lead the Wolverines offense. Last year the 6-2 Shreveport, Louisiana product threw for 2,600 yards with 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also rushed for 273 yards and a couple scores. The passing offense that ranked ninth in the Big Ten last year also returns some very dangerous receivers. Nico Collins and Donovan Peoples-Jones were Patterson’s top targets last year, combining to catch 85 passes for 1,244 yards and 14 touchdowns. A healthy Tarik Black will add another big target. Speaking of big targets, Sean McKeon and Nick Eubanks are a couple of talented pass catchers at tight end. The concern is at running back where Karan Higdon and Chris Evans need to be replaced. True Wilson is the most experienced options after rushing for 364 yards last season, but sophomore Christian Turner and freshman Zach Charbonnet will get an opportunity for a lot of carries, but it remains to be seen if anybody is ready to make a big impact.
Michigan boasted the second best defense in the nation last year, allowing a mere 275.2 yards per game. The lasting memory from last season though was the 62 points given up to Ohio State and the 41 points given up to Florida in the Peach Bowl. And without top 12 draft picks Devin Bush and Rashan Gary, there are some holes to fill. Josh Uche tallied 7.0 sacks last season and fellow defensive end Kwity Paye should get to the quarterback consistently. Khaleke Hudson and Josh Ross are proven linebackers and Ambry Thomas and Lavert Hill are talented cornerbacks. However, Michigan was exposed by the Buckeyes and they need to find a way to fix that problem.
The Bottom Line:
Michigan is developing a habit of having everything to play for against Ohio State and then losing the big game with a trip to Big Ten Championship game on the line. Coach Jim Harbaugh’s squad could be in a similar situation in 2019. The schedule does include some tough road games at Wisconsin and Penn State, but they do get to play Michigan State and Ohio State at home. Anything less than a conference championship will be disappointing to Michigan fans, but as always the Buckeyes are standing in the way.
Projected Bowl: Citrus Bowl
2018 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 203.8 (30th in nation, 6th in conference)
Passing Offense: 215.7 (79, 9)
Total Offense: 419.5 (49, 6)
Scoring Offense: 35.2 (21, 2)
Rushing Defense: 127.4 (23, 3)
Pass Defense: 147.8 (2, 1)
Total Defense: 275.2 (2, 1)
Scoring Defense: 19.4 (16, 3)
Turnover Margin: 0.38 (35, 6)
Sacks: 2.62 (34, 4)
Sacks Allowed: 1.77 (39, 4)
Madness 2020 NFL Draft Rankings:
#45 Khaleke Hudson
#74 Donovan Peoples-Jones
Madness 2019 Recruit Rankings:
#13 Daxton Hill
#28 Christopher Hinton
#59 Zach Charbonnet
#86 Mazi Smith
#124 Trente Jones
#146 Anthony Solomon