Wednesday, August 31, 2016

It's Harbaugh Time in AnnHarbuagh: Predictions for the 2016 Michigan Football Season

It’s Harbaugh Time; Everyday is Harbaugh Time thanks to Junior, Jed York, who couldn’t tolerate a winning coach on his parents 49ers. Harbaugh’s successor, Jim Tonsula, was canned after the 2015 season as Junior returned the 49ers to their decades of futility, broken only by the Bill Walsh – George Seifert years. James Joseph Harbaugh gets more press time than most college and pro coaches – more press time than seemingly Nick Saban and Les Miles and all the other SEC coaches combined, more press time than Urban Meyer and the other Big coaches combined. However, as Bo said “It’s the Team, the Team, the Team!” No coach, no player is larger than The Team. It’s time for the team, Team in the history of Michigan football. James Joseph Harbaugh knows that. The media doesn’t. All Harbaugh has to do is surpass last year’s 10-3 season. Expectations are high this year. Magazines rank Michigan as high as #5. Fans are salivating over a possible title game. Last year I viewed a 9-3 season as excellent, the most we could hope for, but 8-4 would be more realistic. The possible loses would be Utah, Michigan State, and Ohio State, and that’s how it played out. It should have been 10-2, but the Curse of Sparty pulled out the most unbelievable, unimaginable, bizarre, sickening last second victory. The best way to view the game ender is to watch an incredible Lego 3-D reproduction (Just Google Lego Michigan-Michigan State). Michigan was blown away 42-13 in the final season game by Ohio State, showing both that the Wolverines weren’t quite back yet, and that they lacked sufficient depth on the lines. They were physically beat up by the end of the season, just as in recent years. They recovered to crush Florida n the Citrus Bowl. The last time Michigan was ranked 5th preseason was 2007. They proceeded to lose the opener 34-32 to Appalachian State, followed by a 39-7 shellacking by Oregon. The Appalachian State loss marked the end of 4 decades of football excellence by Bo and his proteges, Mo and Lloyd. Lloyd Carr retired at the end of the season, winning the Citrus Bowl over Florida. Rich Rodrigues, otherwise an excellent coach, lasted three embarrassing years (see John Bacon, “Three and Out”). Brady Hoke started 11-2, winning the Sugar Bowl, and raising expectations. It was not meant to be as the Wolverines descended into mediocrity. Very few Michigan players were drafted by the NFL during this period. From a personal perspective the 8 year descend ended the 10-15 year wait for season tickets. I now have season tickets. 9-3 is the starting point for this year. Harbaugh proved at the University of San Diego, Stanford, and the 49ers that he can turn losers into winners. Every starter has to earn his position. Harbaugh has shown an ability to mold quarterbacks. He wins with smash mouth football, bringing back the fullback and tight ends. He is a tenacious, relentless recruiter, having landed the number one recruit in the nation. He says 15 freshmen may play this season rather than being redshirted. Several players on this team are expected to play on Sundays, unlike recent years. If there is a weakness, it is, as has been the case for 8 years, the offensive line. The running game will not open up without consistent good blocking. The defense was the 4th best nationally in 2015. The defensive coordinator left to coach Maryland. Harbaugh replaced him with Dan Brown, a highly respected defensive coordinator, who coached Boston College last year to the nation’s best defense. Is the title game possible? Both Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer at Ohio State won the national title in their second year. It’s possible, but will take some luck and a lack of major injuries. 10-2 would be excellent this year. Penn State and Wisconsin can be tough games, but they are at home. The three most possible losses are Iowa, Michigan State and Ohio State, all on the road. If Michigan beats all three, it should be in the championship playoffs. Both Michigan State and Ohio state are reloading. 15 Buckeyes were drafted by the NFL. However, Urban Meyer is a great coach and the Buckeyes are always loaded. Mark Dantonio has also proven to be a great coach at Michigan State. He doesn’t get the highest ranked recruits, but he steels the players in his winning image. Iowa has a habit of being the Wolverines in Iowa City. 10-2 or 11-1 regular season.

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