Oh the difference in confidence I would have had here if Michigan would have taken care of business against South Carolina. But the Wolverines dropped an ugly one to the Gamecocks and now everyone turns to the biggest off-season of the Jim Harbaugh-era in Ann Arbor. Questions surround several parts of the offense, including the quarterback, both offensive tackles and the entire coaching staff. But there’s hope and there’s a ton of returning talent.
Can Harbaugh and his Wolverines win big in 2018?
Check out my way too early 2018 Michigan football season and depth chart prediction:
Depth Chart Prediction
Shea Patterson is coming to Michigan. Will he be eligible? That’s unknown yet but there looks to be a lot of positive feelings from both Michigan and the Patterson’s. So, I’m gonna go ahead and be optimistic too. I’m also being optimistic with several of Harbaugh’s 2017 signees that redshirted this past season making big impacts this upcoming season.
1st Team Offense
- QB: #20 Shea Patterson, JR
- RB: #22 Karan Higdon, SR
- FB: #42 Ben Mason, SO
- WR: #7 Tarik Black, SO* – #9 Donovan Peoples-Jones, SO – #88 Grant Perry, SR
- TE: #84 Sean McKeon, JR – #83 Zach Gentry, SR*
- LT: #55 James Hudson, SO*
- LG: #74 Ben Bredeson, JR
- C: #51 Cesar Ruiz, SO
- RG: #50 Michael Onwenu, JR
- RT: #71 Andrew Stueber, SO*
1st Team Defense
- SDE: #3 Rashan Gary, JR
- DT: #50 Michael Dwumfour, JR*
- NT: #5 Aubrey Solomon, SO
- WDE: #15 Chase Winovich, 5th
- VIPER: #7 Khaleke Hudson, JR
- SAM: #35 Josh Uche, JR
- MIKE: #10 Devin Bush Jr., JR
- WILL: #8 Drew Singleton, SO*
- FCB: #24 Lavert Hill, JR
- FS: #23 Tyree Kinnel, JR
- SS: #26 J’Marick Woods, SO
- NCB: #1 Ambry Thomas, SO
- BCB: #22 David Long, JR
2nd Team Offense
- QB: #18 Brandon Peters, JR*
- RB: #12 Chris Evans, JR
- FB: Ben VanSumeren, FR
- WR: #4 Nico Collins, SO – #1 Kekoa Crawford, JR – #81 Nate Schoenle, JR
- TE: #17 Tyrone Wheatley Jr., SR* – #82 Nick Eubanks, JR*
- LT: #66 Chuck Filiaga, SO*
- LG: #59 Joel Honigford, SO*
- C: #72 Stephen Spanellis, SR*
- RG: #75 Jon Runyan Jr., JR*
- RT: #70 Nolan Ulizio, JR*
2nd Team Defense
- SDE: #2 Carlo Kemp, JR
- DT: #95 Donovan Jeter, SO*
- NT: #90 Bryan Mone, 5th
- WDE: #18 Luiji Vilain, SO*
- VIPER: Otis Reese, FR
- SAM: #36 Devin Gil, JR
- MIKE: #12 Josh Ross, SO
- WILL: #34 Jordan Anthony, SO*
- FCB: #1 Ambry Thomas, SO
- FS: #16 Jaylen Kelly-Powell, SO
- SS: #14 Josh Metellus, JR
- NCB: Gemon Green, FR
- BCB: Myles Sims, FR
Season Prediction: 10-2 (7-2), 2nd in the Big Ten East
I fully believe the 2018 Big Ten season is going to be a crazy one. The conference should have five legit contenders for the playoffs in Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Penn State and Ohio State, on top of having several 2nd and 3rd tier teams that could make some noise during the season. It’s why I’m expecting a lot of cannibalism, especially in the East, as the conference winner could have 2-3 losses.
And that’s about the amount of losses I see Michigan suffering, at this point.
Yes, 2-3 losses would be a disappointment with the returning talent and Shea Patterson coming to town. However, there are a still a lot of questions surrounding the offensive coaching staff and several key positions. But it’s not like there isn’t a chance at something special here.
If Patterson is immediately eligible, wins the job, lives up to his billing and receives above average offensive line play, Michigan can win the Big Ten and go to the Playoffs.
Patterson is that talented of a quarterback and has the ability to hide problems in the offense while also changing up defensive coordinator’s game plans, which would allow the running game to get going even more. Add in the amount of talent at the skill positions returning, including Karan Higdon, Chris Evans, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Tarik Black, Sean McKeon and Zach Gentry, and this offense should and will be better.
But is just “better” good enough to win big? Maybe, thanks to the defense.
Don Brown is absolutely loaded in his third year as defensive coordinator. The #3 overall defense of 2017 returns 8-9 starters, including Rashan Gary, Chase Winovich, Devin Bush Jr, Tyree Kinnel, Lavert Hill and David Long. So, that’s nothing to worry about. Even with a tough schedule, I feel pretty confident in this being another top five defense for Brown.
So, why is this not a Playoff team?
Questions surrounding the offensive coaching staff and quarterback position, huge openings at both offensive tackle positions, as well as one of the toughest schedules in recent memory thanks to road rivalry games and the Big Ten expecting to be its best in years, I can’t fully jump in on Michigan making the playoffs in 2018, at this point.
With Patterson, I see Michigan knocking off Notre Dame in South Bend, which will amplify the national preseason praise, which will snowball as the squad starts off 6-0 with wins over Scott “I deserve a National Championship too” Frost and a big road win at, always dangerous, Northwestern. But the vs Wisconsin, at Michigan State and vs Penn State gauntlet the Wolverines will have to run through in a four week span is going to be daunting. Add in a trip to Columbus to play against Dwayne Haskins and a new-look Buckeyes, and I see UM dropping 2 of those games.
Add in a big bowl game and my way too early prediction, with Shea Patterson and an even more determined Jim Harbaugh, is 10-3/11-2 for Michigan.
Now, that’s a prediction 8 months before the start of the season and before several off the field questions are answered, so a lot is likely to change by kickoff on September 1st against Notre Dame. We’ll see how much I get right at a later time.
Have some fun with it. What’s your way too early 2018 Michigan football season prediction? Let me know in the comment section below!
Photo Credit: Patrick Barron/MGoBlog