Publish date:

4 MICHIGAN

Author:

OPPOSING COACH'S TAKE

"Everyone wants to know who's going to start at quarterback. Junior John O'Korn has the experience from two seasons at Houston, but [sophomore] Wilton Speight has the measurables [6'6", 239 pounds]. Whoever it is, he's going to spend a lot of time handing it off to their stable of running backs, led by [5'11", 228-pound senior] De'Veon Smith. Jim Harbaugh & Co. depend on the power run game to set up the pass. Their best player just might be [senior] tight end Jake Butt. He's a nightmare one-on-one because he can go up and get the ball, plus run after the catch. They're stockpiled with big, explosive receivers, especially [6'3", 200-pound senior] Jehu Chesson, who's frightening down the field. The line is an above-average group that's embraced Harbaugh's physicality. Your best chance is to make them a passing team, which could backfire.

New DC Don Brown is an aggressive blitzer, and when he gets frustrated, he goes all out. Even though they were top five in total defense a year ago, they didn't have many takeaways, which I'm sure will be an emphasis. A good chunk of their front seven is gone, but they'll be fine with [sophomore] freak Jabrill Peppers moving from safety to linebacker. Their secondary is about the nation's best with a true lockdown guy in [senior cornerback] Jourdan Lewis.

This is a national championship contender."

FAST FACTS

4

Times Michigan rushed for less than 100 yards last year, including all three losses.

75

Total yards gained by now sophomore quarterback Wilton Speight in seven starts last year, which puts him 75 ahead of this year's competition, juniors Shane Morris and John O'Korn.

254.3

Yards per game allowed last year by Boston College—best in the nation—which was run by Michigan's new coordinator, Don Brown.

4

Rank of Michigan's defense last year. The Wolverines were also third in third-down conversion rate defense (.276) and sixth in scoring defense (16.2 ppg).

[The following text appears within a chart. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual chart.]

5 YEAR TREND

GAMES

WINS

15

12

9

6

3

11--2

8--5

7--6

5--7

10--3

YEAR

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

X-FACTOR

The Wolverines need to replace four starting linebackers, and while they have two four-star freshmen on the roster, their most reliable option might be junior MIKE MCCRAY. The 6'4" 240-pounder arrived in 2013, but a right-shoulder injury his sophomore year has limited him to just two tackles. He led the spring game with seven wrap-ups.

2016 SCHEDULE

SATURDAY 9/3

HAWAII

SATURDAY 9/10

CENTRAL FLORIDA

SATURDAY 9/17

COLORADO

SATURDAY 9/24

PENN STATE

SATURDAY 10/1

WISCONSIN

SATURDAY 10/8

AT RUTGERS

BYE

SATURDAY 10/22

ILLINOIS

SATURDAY 10/29

AT MICHIGAN STATE [KEY MATCHUP]

SATURDAY 11/5

MARYLAND

SATURDAY 11/12

AT IOWA [KEY MATCHUP]

SATURDAY 11/19

INDIANA

SATURDAY 11/26

AT OHIO STATE [BIGGEST GAME]

KEY MATCHUP

BIGGEST GAME