College Football Preview: The 2014 Michigan Wolverines
Michigan is hoping an experienced lineup makes a difference in 2014.
2014 College Football Preview
The Michigan Wolverines are hoping an experienced lineup can challenge the Big Ten elite in 2014.
Overview: Brady Hoke hired offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier to restore some direction to a Michigan Offense that could not run or do much of anything unless Devin Gardner did it in between running for his life. The Wolverines beat UConn and Akron by a total of seven points and lost by one to Ohio State so predictability wasn't exactly a strength.
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Offense: Devin Gardner did everything for Michigan except catch his own passes and he won't remain upright if he doesn't get some help from an O-Line that shuffled around lineups and arguably never found the right combination. Six players have starting experience so we will see if a new OC and experience make a difference. Gardner threw for 2,960 yards at 60% for 21 scores and eleven picks put was sacked a whopping 34 times. He also led the ground attack with 748 yards but with five players ranked at four and five star caliber on the roster, somebody else has got to produce on the ground. WR Jeremy Gallon departs with 1,373 yards leaving Devin Funchess (49-748) as the top target.
Defense: The defensive line returns five of the top six but they need to get some pressure on the opposing quarterback. Frank Clark led this group with 12 TFL and five sacks but he will be asked to do more and the line as a whole needs to do more in this area. The linebacking unit returns intact except for Cameron Gordon who was second on the team in TFL with 8.5 and tied for first in sacks with five. Jake Ryan who missed much of 2013 with an early knee injury will provide some plays in the opponents backfield and will lead the team in TFL if he stays on the field. Corners Raymon Taylor and Blake Countess accounted for ten interceptions with a decent amount of returning experience around them.
Special Teams: Matt Wile will handle the punting and possibly placekicking while Dennis Norfleet is back to return kicks but a punt returner is needed.
Outlook: There are plenty of wins on the schedule but I've learned to never count my chickens before they hatch with the Wolverines and by the same token I never count them out. I say they get eight wins and maybe more if some of the problem areas are cleaned up.