The Michigan Wolverines started the 2013 season 5-0 but then Brady Hoke’s squad went into their conference schedule and finished the season 2-6. This season they return senior quarterback Devin Gardner, a dual threat guy who threw 21 touchdown passes and ran for 11 on the ground. Gardner will have three of his top four wide receivers from a year ago including junior Devin Funchess who caught 6 touchdown passes in 2013. The Wolverines did lose their key tailback in Fitzgerald Toussaint who rushed for over 600 yards last season so they will need to fill that position but sophomore Derrick Green looks plenty capable. Defensively, Michigan needs to improve as they allowed almost 6 yards per play and 26 points per game in 2013 and they will be with eight returning starters on that side of the ball led by three really good defensive backs: junior Blake Countess, senior Raymond Taylor and sophomore Jourdan Lewis.
Michigan’s schedule is full of pitfalls but they are separated by good buffer games although the Wolverines didn’t necessarily benefit from the new Big Ten division alignment. They always played Ohio State so the Buckeyes in the same division now only has division ramifications but the addition of Penn State and new member Maryland doesn’t make the Big Ten East a cakewalk by any stretch of the imagination. The Wolverines open the season against, believe it or not, Appalachian State and I’m sure that no one in the state of Michigan or the college football world has forgotten what happened between those two teams on the opening weekend of the 2007 season. Michigan does get Penn State and Maryland in the Big House but road games at newcomer Rutgers, Michigan State, Northwestern and Ohio State make the 2013 schedule a rough one for the Wolverines.
Overall, the Wolverines will go as far as Gardner will take them and that could be to the Big Ten Championship Game if he progresses the way he should. But if he doesn’t, I don’t know how faithful the Michigan brass will be to Head Coach Brady Hoke who went 11-2 in 2011 but has only won 15 games since. The Wolverines struggled on the road last season and have a lot of tough road games in 2014 which means they will have to really grow up and do it quickly as they travel to Notre Dame in week 2. Michigan will be a fun team to watch in 2014 but I just can’t imagine them being able to beat out the likes of Ohio State and Michigan State for the division title.
Stay logged on to Sowegalive.com for Team #24 on Tuesday and tune in to the Southern Football Report every Saturday from 10am-Noon starting on August 23rd! Here is a hint for Team #24: This team’s first intercollegiate football game was in 1882 against Lake Forrest College.