11 Michigan - Sports Illustrated Vault | SI.com
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11 Michigan

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OPPOSING COACH'S TAKE

[Junior] Wilton Speight isn't a great quarterback, but he's solid. He's efficient. He's not a great runner, though he does have surprising escapability for someone who's 6'6", 243 pounds. He manages the game well. [Coach Jim] Harbaugh wants to beat you into the ground, and he's got a big, physical team. All 22 guys, the backups, special teams—they look the way they're supposed to look.

They're so aggressive on defense, whether they're playing man coverage or in their zone packages and third-down stuff. Don Brown is the most aggressive defensive coordinator I've seen in a long time. That system has worked for him for 25 years and he keeps tweaking. Now he's got a lot of high-level talent and depth. You can get some chunk plays against them because of all the man coverage, but you've got to finish drives. They're stingy in the red zone.

They've lost a lot of guys to the NFL, but many of these new starters have played and they're talented. We loved [sophomore] defensive tackle RASHAN GARY. To be that big [6'5", 287 pounds] and move like he can is rare. He's gonna be an All-America either this year or next. I like [6'2", 282-pound senior defensive tackle] Mo Hurst. He's a powerful dude with good feet. Mike McCray [a 6'4" senior linebacker] is rangy and does a lot for them. He's 245 and moves like he's 220.

OFFENSIVE RANKINGS (1 TO 128)

[The following text appears within an illustration. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual illustration.]

THIRD-DOWN CONVERSION % (40TH)

YARDS PER PASS ATTEMPT (58TH)

COMPLETION % (32ND)

YARDS PER CARRY (47TH)

SACKS ALLOWED (39TH)

TURNOVERS LOST (5TH)

POINTS PER DRIVE (18TH)

YARDS PER PLAY (61ST)

DEFENSIVE RANKINGS (1 TO 128)

[The following text appears within an illustration. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual illustration.]

THIRD-DOWN CONVERSION % ALLOWED (1ST)

YARDS PER PASS ATTEMPT ALLOWED (1ST)

COMPLETION % ALLOWED (1ST)

YARDS PER CARRY ALLOWED (7TH)

SACKS (5TH)

TURNOVERS GAINED (67TH)

POINTS PER DRIVE ALLOWED (2ND)

YARDS PER PLAY ALLOWED (2ND)

STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE RATING

53

The Wolverines open with Florida in Texas (9/2), then face Top 12 in-conference foes Penn State (10/21) and Wisconsin (11/18) on the road before hosting Ohio State (11/25). The PSU game follows a bye for the Lions, who are hungry for payback after a 49--10 pasting last year.

THE PLAYER TO KNOW

Junior defensive end CHASE WINOVICH is a former high school quarterback who started two games last season and had eight TFLs and five sacks while playing in the shadow of the now NFL-employed Taco Charlton on a loaded defensive line. Ask Wolverines team leaders who they expect to have a breakout 2017—aside from defensive tackle Rashan Gary—and a lot will stump for Winovich. In hopes of becoming more than primarily a third-down edge rusher, Winovich bulked up in the offseason, adding 10 pounds, so that he now checks in at 6'3", 245. Offensive tackle Mason Cole, who faces Winovich at practice every day, said of his seemingly tireless teammate, "He has the best motor I've ever seen."