#20 Michigan Football 2013 Preview

Michigan Wolverines

Overall Rank: #20
#3 Big Ten

Michigan Team Page#20 Michigan Football 2013 PreviewBuy Michigan Football Tickets

It's back baby! College football's top rivalry is back for another go around. For years, Michigan was down and out. Ohio State had notched victories in nine out of ten meetings between the two starting in 2001. Then, as the Wolverines started to rise up, OSU got put on probation, souring any championship battles that would have formed and forcing the Buckeyes to vacate one of those nine wins. But now, Michigan thinks they are the best team in the Big 10 and you know Urban Meyer feels the same way about his new squad in Columbus. You can have your USC - Notre Dame game or Texas versus Oklahoma. But when both OSU and Michigan are good and hating each other, college football can get no better.

2012 Record: 8-5, 6-2
2012 Bowl: Outback Bowl vs. South Carolina (L 28-33)
Coach: Brady Hoke (19-7 at Michigan, 66-57 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Al Borges
Defensive Coordinator: Greg Mattison

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Fitzgerald Toussaint, RB, 514 yards
Passing: Devin Gardner, QB, 1,219 yards
Receiving: Jeremy Gallon, WR, 829 yards
Tackles: Jake Ryan, LB, 88
Sacks: Jake Ryan, LB, 4.5
Interceptions: Thomas Gordon, S, 2; Raymon Taylor, DB, 2

Other Key Returnees: RB Thomas Rawls, RB Dennis Norfleet, TE Devin Funchess, OL Michael Schofield, OL Taylor Lewan, DL Frank Clark, LB Desmond Morgan

Key Losses: QB Denard Robinson, WR Roy Roundtree, DL Craig Roh, LB Kenny Demens, DB Jordan Kovacs

Shoelace is out. And that might be for the better for Brady Hoke and Wolverine fans. Sure, Denard Robinson was a magical and breathtaking player. However, he couldn't really throw. And that seems to be detrimental to the development and success of a quarterback. In his stead comes former quarterback turned former wide receiver turned quarterback again Devin Gardner. Near the end of last year, following a Robinson injury, Gardner came in and ran the offense solidly. He doesn't have the flash or running upside that Shoelace had but he may be a better overall QB. And Brady Hoke has taken notice, switching to a more general, dropback type of offense, to take advantage of the upgrade his squad should see throwing the football this season. Also working in Gardner's favor: the return of the team's leading receiver Jeremy Gallon, the return from injury of running back Fitzgerald Toussaint and his left side will be protected by the best offensive tackle in the country in Taylor Lewan. Many, check that, everyone thought Lewan was going to enter the NFL draft in April. Instead, he decided to return for his senior season. And no one is happier about that decision than Devin Gardner.

Of course it will not all be roses and Rose Bowls for the Michigan Wolverines necessarily, even on offense. Denard was by far the team's best rusher even with a healthy Toussaint. He even started at running back those final few games when he was not healthy enough (and subsequently not good enough) to play behind center. And, rather ironically, Gardner was one of the team's better receivers, finishing in a tie for second on the team in receiving touchdowns. Throw in the departure of veteran Roy Roundtree and the offense is heavily reliant on Gardner, a man who hasn't spent a season as quarterback since high school. The defense is also no sure thing. A good scoring defense last season may have overshadowed the shortcomings in turnover margin and sacking the quarterback. The pass defense was oddly successful for a team that finished outside the top 75 nationally in both those categories.

The Bottom Line:
In 2012, the Michigan Wolverines beat everyone they should have beaten, garnering eight wins in the process. They played five other teams that could have been considered their equal or better than them. In fact, College Sports Madness has all five ranked ahead of Michigan heading into 2013. The Wolverines lost all five of those ballgames. In professional sports terms, good teams try to win their home games and split their road games. In college football, teams want to beat everyone they should beat and split those tough battles. Michigan could not muster a single win in the latter category a year ago. This season's schedule looks a bit easier, mainly because Alabama does not appear on it. This year's team also looks a bit better, on paper at least. With more certainty and pass creativity at Brady Hoke's disposal, it shouldn't be as simple to stifle their scoring, as Bama did and Notre Dame did and Nebraska did last season.

Projected Bowl: Capital One Bowl

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 183.77 (41st in nation, 5th in conference)
Passing Offense: 199.31 (94, 6)
Total Offense: 383.08 (78, 8)
Scoring Offense: 29.85 (57, 5)
Rushing Defense: 150.54 (51, 6)
Pass Defense: 169.46 (5, 2)
Total Defense: 320.00 (13, 2)
Scoring Defense: 19.85 (20, 4)
Turnover Margin: -.69 (99, 10)
Sacks: 1.69 (78, 9)
Sacks Allowed: 1.38 (28, 2)

Madness 2014 NFL Draft Rankings:
#3 Taylor Lewan

Madness 2013 Football Recruit Rankings:
#31 Derrick Green
#55 Patrick Kugler
#60 Kyle Bosch
#64 Dymonte Thomas
#84 Shane Morris
#96 Jourdan Lewis
#103 Taco Charlton
#115 Chris Fox
#141 Henry Poggi
#144 Logan Tuley-Tillman
#159 David Dawson
#167 Michael McCray
#195 DeVeon Smith
#224 Ben Gadeon
#229 Delano Hill


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