#37 Michigan Football 2014 Preview

Michigan Wolverines

Overall Rank: #37
#6 Big Ten

Michigan Team Page#37 Michigan Football 2014 PreviewBuy Michigan Football Tickets

Even during their 5-0 start to the 2013 campaign, Michigan did not look like Michigan. They almost lost to Akron and should have lost to Connecticut the following week. They finished the year losing five of their last six games, including a beat down by Kansas State in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. That is not the momentum the Wolverines wanted heading into the 2014 campaign.

2013 Record: 7-6, 3-5
2013 Bowl: Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl vs. Kansas State (L 14-31)
Coach: Brady Hoke (26-13 at Michigan, 73-63 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Doug Nussmeier
Defensive Coordinator: Greg Mattison

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Devin Gardner, QB, 483 yards
Passing: Devin Gardner, QB, 2,960 yards
Receiving: Devin Funchess, WR/TE, 748 yards
Tackles: Raymon Taylor, CB, 86
Sacks: Frank Clark, DE, 4.5
Interceptions: Blake Countess, CB, 6

Other Key Returnees: RB Derrick Green, TE Jake Butt, LB James Ross, LB Desmond Morgan, LB Jake Ryan

Key Losses: RB Fitzgerald Toussaint, WR Jeremy Gallon, OL Taylor Lewan, OL Michael Schofield, LB Cameron Gordon, S Thomas Gordon, K Brendan Gibbons

If Michigan is going to be a major contender in the Big Ten, it will be on the strength of their defense. The obvious strength is at linebacker where Jake Ryan, Desmond Morgan and James Ross return. Those three are not just returning starters, but each will be heading into at least their third year as a starter. Ryan will move to the middle after an injury shortened campaign. Back in 2012 he tallied 88 tackles, including 16.0 tackles-for-loss and 4.5 sacks. The pass rush should be in good shape with those talented linebackers and Frank Clark and Brennen Beyer on the ends of the line. Clark totaled 4.5 sacks last year, while Beyer added 2.0. Filling in the holes in the middle of the line will not be easy, but Willie Henry had a very good freshman campaign and Chris Wormley has a lot of potential. The secondary was the weak spot of Michigan’s defense a year ago, but that is not going to be the case now. Free safety Jarrod Wilson is ready to emerge as a leader in the back. Corners Blake Countess and Ray Taylor are returning starters, but there is other talent at the position that will push Countess and Taylor. Sophomore Jourdan Lewis and super recruit Jabrill Peppers might be too talented to leave on the sidelines.

Of course the Michigan offense has potential under quarterback Devin Gardner. Known for his running ability, Gardner threw for an impressive 2,960 yards as a junior. Yet Gardner still has to hold off sophomore Shane Morris, who will be breathing down his neck all season long. For any quarterback, life will not be as easy without Jeremy Gallon. Gallon caught 89 passes for 1,373 yards and nine touchdowns. Devin Funchess will step into a starring role after catching 49 passes for 748 yards and six touchdowns. Outside of Funchess, Michigan lacks experienced pass catchers and players like Dennis Norfleet and freshman Freddy Canteen need to step up. At running back, Derrick Green will step into the starting role for the departed Fitzgerald Toussaint. Green is a superb talent and this is his year to shine. But it will not happen if the offensive line does not improve. The unit went through a slew of different lineups but nothing worked. And that was with Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield. The experience gained last year is nice, but the lack of senior leadership from a top tackle like Lewan is going to hurt.

The Bottom Line:
This is a very young Michigan team. But Coach Brady Hoke also has nearly all of his players in the system. If the offensive line can give Gardner and Green some room to operate, this will be a potent offense, albeit not very consistent. Avoiding potent defenses like Wisconsin, Nebraska and Iowa will help boost the win total, but road trips to Michigan State and Ohio State will keep the Wolverines out of the Big Ten title picture.

Projected Bowl: TaxSlayer Bowl

2013 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 125.7 (102nd in nation, 11th in conference)
Passing Offense: 247.8 (51, 4)
Total Offense: 373.5 (86, 10)
Scoring Offense: 32.2 (46, 4)
Rushing Defense: 140.2 (29, 5)
Pass Defense: 231.3 (66, 7)
Total Defense: 371.5 (41, 5)
Scoring Defense: 32.2 (46, 4)
Turnover Margin: 0.4 (32, 2)
Sacks: 1.92 (66, 7)
Sacks Allowed: 2.77 (105, 10)

Madness 2015 NFL Draft Rankings:
#58 Devin Funchess

Madness 2014 Recruit Rankings:
#2 Jabrill Peppers
#94 Drake Harris
#106 Bryan Mone
#132 Mason Cole
#150 Lawrence Marshall


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